WASHINGTON – First, Martin Brodeur denied the Washington Capitals’ top scorers in a shootout. Then the New Jersey goalie deftly deflected praise for preserving the Devils’ third straight victory.
Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner scored in the shootout, Brodeur stopped shootout attempts by Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin and the Devils beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 Monday night to end a three-game road trip unbeaten.
“It’s nice when you go out and your first couple of guys scores all the time (in the shootout). For a goalie, it’s great,” said Brodeur. “You make a save and the next thing you know, you’re in good position to win the hockey game.”
Nicklas Backstrom scored for the Capitals in the shootout, but Brodeur used his left arm to block Semin’s drive and kicked away Ovechkin’s shot at the left post.
Brian Rolston and David Clarkson scored in regulation for the Devils, who overcame a two-goal deficit and have won all three of their road games this season – something New Jersey hasn’t done since winning its first four road games in 1989-90.
“You go on the road, regardless of teams you play, and you have three games and you just hope to do well,” Brodeur said. “We did great. We got all six points.”
Mike Knuble celebrated his promotion to Washington’s top line with a goal and an assist, and Mike Green also scored for the Capitals, who have lost four straight. Ovechkin was held without a goal for a third straight game, but contributed two assists.
“It’s not a frustration. It’s more like an annoyance,” said Knuble of the skid. “We’re doing all the things right, every game we’ve lost.”
Knuble, the veteran signed to a two-year free-agent deal in July, replaced Semin on the first line with Ovechkin and Backstrom. Knuble had played there in the pre-season before coach Bruce Boudreau put Semin on the top trio at the start of the season.
The reworked combination of Semin, centre Brendan Morrison and winger Brooks Laich was on the ice for New Jersey’s two goals in regulation.
“I thought that (Knuble) played a solid game. I thought the other line struggled a little bit with the switch. … We’ve got to find a switch that works for everybody,” Boudreau said.
The Capitals, hampered by ill-timed penalties during their skid, killed off all five power plays by the Devils, who had scored man-advantage goals in each of their previous three games. Washington, however, was 0-for-5 on the power play, and wasted a two-man advantage lasting 52 seconds early in the third period with a 2-1 lead.
“Our penalty kill did a great job,” said Langenbrunner. “It obviously starts with the guy in net. He made some big saves so the penalty kill would be good. I think we did a pretty good job against a very dangerous power play of at least keeping the shots so we knew where they were coming from. Marty knew where they were coming from.”
The biggest save by either goalie came in overtime. With Morrison in the box for tripping, Washington’s Jose Theodore blocked a shot by Parise at the right post to maintain the tie.
Green’s goal, the first by a Washington defenceman this year, provided a 1-0 lead midway through the opening period. Green pinched in from the left wing, using Knuble as a screen, and whacked Ovechkin’s rebound from a right-side shot past Brodeur’s glove.
Just over five minutes later, Knuble made it 2-0. After Theodore blocked a Devils shot, Ovechkin took the puck, raced down the left wing and sent a rink-wide pass to Knuble, who snapped off a shot that hopped in over Brodeur’s stick.
Rolston trimmed the lead in half 8:18 into the second period, converting from the right wing after a cross-ice feed from Rob Niedermayer.
With 6:26 remaining in regulation, Clarkson used defenceman Brian Pothier as a shield in front of the crease and banged home Niclas Bergfors’ centring pass from behind the net.
Notes: Clarkson has points in four straight games. … Capitals LW Tomas Fleischmann, who hasn’t played this season while recovering from a blood clot in his leg, hopes to be cleared soon by team doctors so he can participate in practices, Boudreau said. … Green celebrated his 24th birthday Monday. … Devils C Travis Zajac had a three-game goal-scoring streak halted.